A group of 13 US legislators, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, pressed the president of America’s largest pharmaceutical industry trade group about what they said were “troubling price increases for brand name drugs” in January, Reuters reported.
The legislators sent a letter to Stephen Ubl, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) which was signed by 12 Democrats, including Representative Katie Porter as well as Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. In the letter, the legislators ask PhRMA to explain the source of the price increases, and to provide information about research costs and revenue from the drugs in question.
“The large, across-the-board price increases of popular, brand name prescription drugs appear to be an example of pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of their abusive market power to expand already large profits,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers cited two studies in their petition to PhRMA, which focused on many of the prescription medicines that the Medicare Part D program spends the most on: one by Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer of the University of Minnesota and another by the Johns Hopkins Drug Access and Affordability Initiative.
Schondelmeyer’s study found that drugmakers increased prices for 72% of the 100 top-selling drugs in early 2022, with 26% of brand name drugs showing higher prices. The Johns Hopkins study focused on the top 20 medicines prescribed, finding higher prices in 16.
The brand name drugs cited by the legislators include life-saving and quality of life medication, ranging from treatments for Diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis, to various cancer treatments. A spokesman for one of the pharmaceutical companies involved responded by saying their product, Type 2 diabetes treatment Victoza, had remained below the company’s promised increase threshold announced in 2016. Other manufacturers have not yet issued a comment.
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